About the Author
LANE SMITH was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 25th, 1959. His family moved to Corona,California when he was three, but spent the better part of every summer back in Oklahoma. “Myfamily would take the old Route 66 highway. I think that’s where my bizarre sense of designcomes from. Once you’ve seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand in the middle ofnowhere, you’re never the same.”
Lane has one brother, whose name is Shane. “Shane and Lane. My Mom thought this was funny.Really. A real hoot. However, HER brothers were named Dub, Cubby, Leo and Billy- Joe! MyDad’s brothers were Tom and Jerry! I SWEAR this is true!”
“I had a great childhood. We lived in the foothills, and my brother and I spent all of ourafter-school time exploring, building forts, collecting lizards, etc. My favorite time of year wasFall, when the wind would start up and the air grew colder. I lived for Halloween and I loved theold Universal studios’ monster movies. Shane and I would watch them, then read each otherhorror stories with titles like Tales to Tremble By. The foothills were full of dry bushes and deserttrees and in the Fall we’d get a lot of creepy looking tumbleweeds blowing through our backyardat night. I used to lay awake in bed and imagine what wild adventures might be happening in thehills. I think some of those memories later evolved into THE BIG PETS.
Lane supplemented the money his parents were putting towards his college tuition by taking a jobat Disneyland. “I worked at Disneyland for about five years as a janitor. Only we weren’t calledjanitors, we were called custodial hosts. One of my duties was to clean out the attractions atnight. It was great to be left in the Haunted Mansion all alone. Another duty was to clean up aftersomeone if they got sick on the Revolving Teacup ride. Like I said, it was great to be left in theHaunted Mansion all alone.”
After he graduated from college with a B.F.A. in Illustration, he headed for the Big Apple with asmall portfolio of illustrations.
Since then his work has appeared on the covers of The Atlantic Monthly, The New York TimesMagazine, The Boston Globe, Sierra, American Bookseller, The Progressive, Time, Newsweek,Mother Jones, and Ms.
“A lot of reviewers have misidentified my technique as airbrush or dyes or even egg tempera. Ithink this is because it almost looks as if it was sprayed with paint with little dots of color andtexture visible. Actually, my work is rendered in oil paints. I paint on board, building up severalthin glazes of the oil, sealing them between coats with an acrylic spray varnish. This not only driesthe oil instantly, but also causes a chemical reaction between the oil and the acrylic. Normally, itwould be a mistake to combine two opposites like this and in fact it was a mistake the first time Idid it, but I liked the results. I’m a big fan of artists who play with surfaces. I love texture andgrunge. The trick is to know when to stop. Sometimes I keep adding more and more layers untilI’ve ruined the piece. Usually I stop when the painting starts to look interesting. Then I go in witha fine brush and add details, lights and darks, etc. It’s a laborious process, but it’s unpredictableand it keeps me interested and surprised. Of course, I’m influenced by other illustrators too, likeN.C. Wyeth, Maurice Sendak, Arthur Rackham, Edward Lear, Gustav Dore and Tomi Ungerer. Ihope I can follow the path these dark illustrators have walked, or at least use the sidewalk thatruns alongside it.”copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.